The psychology behind why giveaways and gifts work 

 Is gifting patients stress balls branded with your name an effective way to build loyalty? Do giveaways on your Facebook page influence patients to promote your practice? It can be hard to know what strategies are worth your time and expense. Before you order a case of eyeball lollipops for your eye care practice, let’s take a look at the psychology behind patient loyalty and practice marketing. In a few simple steps, you’ll be on your way to more engaged patients and hopefully new-patient referrals as well.  

Do you know your practice’s Net Promoter Score?

You’ve likely been asked on a customer service survey, “How likely are you to recommend this business/product/service to a friend or colleague?” This single question determines a company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS). This metric evaluates business performance and customers’ brand loyalty and has been adopted by more than two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies. “The healthcare industry, however, has been slower to get on board,” notes the GetWellNetwork blog

Finding out how many patients are likely to recommend your practice to others—and how many aren’t—can help you identify opportunities to improve patient loyalty.

NPS, developed by Satmetrix Systems, is calculated by customers’ responses on a 0 to 10 scale (0 = “not at all likely” to recommend a business; 10 = “extremely likely”). Respondents are divided into three groups: 

  • Promoters: With ratings of 9-10, these are loyal enthusiasts who will keep coming back and refer others.
  • Passives: Satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who rank a business 7 or 8 are vulnerable to being lured away by competitors.
  • Detractors: With 0-6 rankings, these are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and hinder growth through negative word-of-mouth.

Subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters will give you your NPS score. “To get more detailed actionable information you can add an optional open-ended feedback question that asks ‘What is the most important reason for your score?’” suggests practice management software company Innocare. This will help identify opportunities to improve patient experience and loyalty. 

According to research from Accenture, consumers are less likely to recommend their healthcare providers than banks, hotels, and retail companies—yet twice as likely to complain about them. “The combination of fewer recommendations and more complaints creates a loyalty challenge for healthcare providers,” noted GetWellNetwork. And given that Accenture found that 44 percent of patients choose their healthcare provider based on personal recommendations, practices need to be paying attention to their NPS, patient satisfaction surveys, and other sources of patient feedback.

Accenture research says consumers are less likely to recommend their healthcare providers than banks, hotels, and retail companies—yet twice as likely to complain about them. Click To Tweet

For more on this topic, see How to Measure Patient Satisfaction in Your Practice

Why giveaways and gifts are effective

So how do Facebook giveaways and branded mouse pads factor in? These are simple, cost-effective strategies that foster goodwill among current patients and can help you reach new patients. 

Quick, low-cost giveaways go a long way towards showing patients you care about connecting with them and that they are worth rewarding.

Frequency is more important than expense, according to MySocialPractice.com. “In hundreds of cases, we’ve found that our clients get much the same engagement results with a $10 prize as with a $50 one. To patients, it’s not so much about the value of the prize as about the chance to connect with you and win something for free.” Weekly or monthly giveaways, whether it’s a $5 Starbucks card or tickets to a new movie for answering a trivia question or taking a short poll, show patients you care about engaging with them and they’re worth rewarding. 

The best giveaways are quick. “A giveaway that lasts about a week gives it a sense of urgency that encourages patients to enter the moment they see the announcement,” noted MySocialPractice. Make it easy to enter by asking people to Like the page, Like the post, or leave a comment. Encourage sharing, but be aware of social media platforms’ policies for promotions and giveaways. For example, Facebook stipulates that you cannot make sharing a requirement to enter a promotion. For example, “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries,” and “tag your friends in this post to enter” are not permitted.

The power of free advertising

In past posts, we’ve suggested giving away small items, such as lip balm branded with your practice’s logo or “chocolate ears” for ENTs. Do these little trinkets actually make a difference towards your marketing and patient loyalty efforts? 

Patient gifts that promote your practice foster goodwill and get your name in front of potential new patients.

Yes indeed, according to practice marketing company Weave. First off, anything with your name and logo on it promotes your practice. “Marketing is all about positive touchpoints. The average consumer needs six to eight touchpoints with a product/business/brand before they buy.” 

Wearable gifts are even better, according to the company, which suggests giving away neon sunglasses and T-shirts in their post “19 Optometry Marketing Ideas To Help Grow Your Practice.” “If you have people around town wearing your T-shirt with your info on it, then you have advertisements everywhere people go. It’s a great way to get your marketing on the streets, in stores, at workplaces, etc.…On top of that, people love free stuff—especially clothing.”


Building patient loyalty starts with delivering a positive patient experience. To learn more, download our eBook: Taking Action on Patient Satisfaction: The Ultimate Guide!